The Isle of Skye
A very happy & healthy new year to all those that frequent my pages...
I'm always fairly excited when I'm about to visit the Isle of Skye for some photography but before arriving at this landscape photography hotspot I normally break the 550 mile jaunt with a whistlestop tour of either Glencoe, Invergarry, Glen Orchy or some other place that is of interest.
After crossing the Skye bridge...
'The Cuillin Mountains loomed in the distance....the closer I travelled the loftier and more majestic the mountains were'. The Isle of Skye is a wonderful plethora of landscapes with stunning vistas viewable from many different angles, only enhanced by fleeting and often wild moments of light.
One of my first visits here was the wettest Skye had had for ten years and the crofters were even complaining about the persitant rain. I remember the wind howling with fierce hail beating against the skylight in my hotel room in the small settlement of Calnacnoc. (I normally stay at the Glenview Hotel - there is no TV, you can see the stars at night and the food is first class). On that occassion it only rained for two days, although more or less constantly. To say the weather can be unpredictable in the winter months is an understatement - frequently checking the forecasts didn't help much as the weather had ulterior motives. I have been to the Isle of Skye several times now and for me there are alway different photographs to be had at many differing locations. This is unsurprising as the Island is Scotlands' second largest and in my opinion is one of the jewels in the crown. I like to take the less common viewpoint and create images that are new to my mind although I'm constantly torn by the classic views such as the Old Man of Storr and the Trotternish Ridge - these are just the icing on a very large cake that keeps on delivering.
I have been up to the Storr in the snow in a pair of green wellies with two pairs of very warm socks on. I also had about five different layers on and a coat to make sure I wouldn't freeze, but by the time I had reached the gate half way up I was just above knee height in snow. The weather was bitter and the visibility was poor with white out conditions - my friend and I sheltered behind a large boulder. Occassionally the conditions would improve and the Storr would appear for the briefest of moments. After about an hour the curtains of snow clouds lifted to reveal blue skies and a wonderful clarity. I wish I had snow shoes at this point as I would have been off up to the Storr to experience this much loved landscape in its winter glory.
Waterfalls on Skye tend to appear quite frequently though perhaps most visitors only see the ones they pass by on the roads for example Kilt Rock and those tributaries that cascade down the Cuillins at Glen Sligachan. Photographically some of the most interesting waterfalls are at the Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle. This is a wild glen where eagles soar along the Cuillins - their golden colours enhanced by the low level winter sun (when its not raining). The water from the fairy pools is an aqua blue / green colour and this is a direct contrast from the darkly coloured rocks of the majestic rocky backdrop.
Skye is a blessed place as it has a great coastline - Elgol is one such place on the coastline that offers a grand view across Loch Scavaig and on to the Cuillins. In winter when the snow falls, this enhances the already spectacular view as the peaks take on a different more wintery feel. I have been at Elgol in strong winds where large waves rolled in one after another and the light flirted transiently before it disappeared into different shades of grey.
Normally when there is an accurate forecast for stormy weather I like to head for Neist Point on the North West side of Skye as I like to watch the weather systems from all directions. Waterstein Head on Moonen Bay and the Outer Hebrides can be seen from this coastal promontory.
On leaving Skye on one of my trips I had been staying on the Waternish Penisular - morning snow and light was beyond anything I had seen before. The clouds left a dusting of snow across the Island - typical as I was wishing for more time to stay...although theres alway next time.